WUI (Writing under the influence)

Somebody once said we are all Americans, sometimes born in the wrong places.
On a warm autumn day in 1986, while enjoying beer with my college buddies,
I decided to join my new homeland.

I've come to appreciate the ideals that helped create this great country.
Liberalism, political-correctness, multiculturalism and moral equivalence
are destroying it.

This old house Grovenet Wal*Mart Visiting Poland American wine better than French.

Friday, September 30, 2005


Not so good news from Poland

Well, it seems I was right. The first signs are not good. The PiS party platform (why didn't I know what that platform was exactly before the election?) indicates that, although socially conservative, it may want to introduce several big-government programs that reek of socialism.

Kamila Pajer has an article in today's Tech Central Station that is not very encouraging.

In an interview with Business Week Polska, [Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, the new Prime Minister] said he thinks that supermarkets should be forbidden to open on Sundays, that the state should establish maximum prices for drugs and books and that the state should finance higher education. As for the healthcare system, Marcinkiewicz admits, however, that patients should be free to choose their insurer - to decide whether they prefer to be insured by a public or private institution. Still, the PiS party program calls for a centrally managed public healthcare system with compulsory public insurance.

The PiS program is rather pro-social, meaning apart from public relief programs such as the one mentioned above, state guaranties of credits for houses and flats also many other socialist solutions: state control over the economy, slower privatization of public firms and state financed science and research. The party promises honesty and justice in public life. To fight rapidly spreading corruption, which is a direct result of the vast public administration and its power over the law, the party proposes to... enlarge the administration (the department of internal control). Clearly, the PiS believes the fact that in Poland clerks and politicians are corrupt; the fact that some 20 percent of people are unemployed and many live in poverty does not tell them the system is ineffective and devastating for the country, but rather that the system only needs some adjusting.

According to the PiS its program would lead to a "New Social Deal" to "Make all Poles profit from economic growth and not only the very limited number of the richest people". Yet, the party does not want to achieve this by making people more free but by controlling them more. The problem is also that the PiS program is just a collection of wishes and promises with the biggest promise of them all that PiS politicians are honest and can guarantee the money they take people is safe and will not be squandered.
The article makes a very important point about what may have happened last Sunday in Poland. It would seem on the surface that Poland made "a dramatic shift to the right." But a closer analysis suggests that after the elections "the statism supporters make up over 70 percent of the Polish parliament." So even though the coalition will consist of PiS and PO, the majority of Poles voted for the status quo and only shifted their preferences from ex-Communists (SLD) to other pro-social parties.

In 1989, when Communism fell in Poland, I said that it would take at least one generation for Poles to get rid of their dependency on the state. It seems I was right.
The Jews who were freed from Egyptian slavery wandered for 40 years in the desert before arriving in the Promised Land. Poles have been wandering the desert of Socialism for 15 years now.

Do we really have to wait another 15 years?


The Washington County Republican Party

I just became a member of the Washington County Republican Party Meetup Group.

It was rather easy. I just submitted my profile and got an approval e-mail within an hour.

I will do my best to attend the next meeting. 2006 will be as difficult or even more difficult than 2004 so I'm ready to help.


Grovenet watch

Let's see when one of the Steeles or another love-monger posts something on Bill Bennett.
Well, I am ready.

UPDATE (10:21PM): Posting on Grovenet has been very light today and nothing controversial has happened. Bennett's story will die, I think, with the new developments in the Plame case.

James Taranto had by far the best comment on the whole Bennett's "kerfuffle" in his Best of the Web today.

The latest Bill Bennett kerfuffle leads us to think that the culture of political correctness that surrounds race in America may be in its final throes. Bennett and a caller to his radio show the other day were discussing a hypothesis in Steven Levitt's book "Freakonomics" (available from the OpinionJournal bookstore): that the explosion of abortion after Roe v. Wade depleted the number of potential criminals and thus helped reduce the crime rate. Bennett rejected such utilitarian pro-abortion arguments:

It's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could--if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.

The ragemongers at MediaMatters.org ginned up a controversy over Bennett's remarks, and the ritual expressions of outrage followed, as the Washington Post reports:

Bennett's comments . . . were quickly condemned by Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who issued a statement demanding that Bennett apologize. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) circulated a letter, signed by 10 of his colleagues, demanding that the Salem Radio Network suspend Bennett's show.

Wade Henderson, the executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, demanded that the show be canceled.

"Bennett's statement is outrageous. As a former secretary of education, he should know better," Henderson said. "His program should be pulled from the air."

Today the White House joined in: "The president believes the comments were not appropriate," the Associated Press quotes press secretary Scott McClellan as saying.

But Bennett also has his defenders. One of them is the liberal journalist Matthew Yglesias:

Not only is Bennett clearly not advocating a campaign of genocidal abortion against African-Americans, but the empirical claim here is unambiguously true. Similarly, if you aborted all the male fetuses, all those carried by poor women, or all those carried by Southern women, the crime rate would decline. Or, at least, in light of the fact that southern people, poor people, black people, and male people have a much greater propensity to commit crime than do non-southern, non-black, non-poor, or non-male people that would have to be our best guess. The consequences, clearly, would be far-reaching and unpredictable, but the basic demographic and criminological points here can't be seriously disputed.

Keep in mind, too, that black leaders and liberal politicians constantly harp on the high incarceration rate of black Americans--so much so that John Kerry* was caught last year exaggerating it. Yet somehow it's considered invidious to point out that blacks, or black men at any rate, have a higher crime rate than nonblacks?

We can't help but wonder if part of the outrage over Bennett's remark isn't precisely his view that aborting black babies is immoral. After all, the official position of the Democratic Party is that abortion not only is not immoral but is a fundamental constitutional right, as long as the mother consents. And although MediaMatters claims that Levitt's argument has nothing to do with race, blogger Bob Krumm notes that in a 2001 paper in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Levitt and John Donohue expressly link black abortion to reduced crime:

Fertility declines for black women are three times greater than for whites (12 percent compared to 4 percent). Given that homicide rates of black youths are roughly nine times higher than those of white youths, racial differences in the fertility effects of abortion are likely to translate into greater homicide reductions.

In other words, whereas Bennett rejects the idea of reducing crime by aborting black babies, Levitt and Donohue argue that that is exactly what has happened over the past three decades, as a result of liberal policies. If they are right, there is, to say the least, a fundamental tension between blacks and pro-abortion feminists, two of the core components of the Democratic coalition. No wonder Bennett's comments have caused such discomfort on the left.

So why do we see this as a sign of political correctness's decline? Well, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, we kept hearing from our liberal friends that what this country needs is an honest discussion of race. Of course, liberals who call for a discussion of race never actually want it to be honest. Rather, they want to engage in the old familiar ritual in which blacks air their grievances, white liberals trumpet their moral superiority, the rest of us shut up and listen, and dissenters are shamed and silenced (see John Conyers's and Wade Henderson's demands regarding Bennett, above).

Our sense, however, is that this old ritual no longer has the same power it once did, and that as a result, liberals actually are getting the honest discussion about race that they have long demanded. If so, their worst fears are coming true.

* A man so white, he looks French!

Monday, September 26, 2005


Good news from Poland?

The guys at Powerline think so. But there is some reason for concern.
In a shocking victory, PiS (the conservative Law & Justice party) won the general election on Sunday according to exit polls. The PO (centrist Civic Platform), which had led all of the popular opinion polls in recent weeks came in second.
Yes, this is in fact shocking. As I said in this post, I hoped "the new coalition [...] will have PO as the majority party with PiS following as the (distant?) second." But it wasn't even close.
OBOP & PBS exit polls show the following results: PiS (27.8%), PO (24.1%), SLD (Democratic Left Alliance, 11.2%), LPR (right-wing, nationalist League of Polish Families, 10.4%), Samoobrona (left-wing, populist Self-Defence party, 10.4%), PSL (agrarian party, 5.9%), SdPL (left-wing Social Democracy of Poland, 3.3%), and Democraci.pl (centrist, pro-business party 2.7%). According to these agencies, voter turnout was 38.3%.
GfK Polonia agency exit polls show the following: PiS (28.26%), PO (26.48%), SLD (10.97%), LPR (8.25%), Samoobrona (10.16%), PSL (5.68%), SdPL (3.27%), and Democraci.pl (2.76%). GfK Polonia shows that voter turnout reached 40.4%.
What's worse, my father's party, LPR, did much better than expected and could be now an attractive partner for a PiS-led coalition. Both parties share Euro skepticism and many ideals based in so called social justice. This could make pro-market reforms advocated by PO very difficult.
PO leaders Donald Tusk and Jan Rokita could hardly hide their disappointment in interviews following the election, even though they tried to remain diplomatic and gracious.

PO's presidential candidate Donald Tusk is expected to easily win the presidential election, which could place him at odds with a government led by the PiS (with the PO as junior coalition partner), especially over issues like tax policy.

PiS is a conservative party in terms of social issues, but, in terms of fiscal policy, it leans heavily towards the left. The PO is generally considered more pro-business and wants to reform Poland's tax policy and introduce flat taxes (15% VAT, 15% corporate and 15% personal income taxes). PiS wants to retain the progressive tax structure and says that the PO's tax plan would hurt the poorest members of society.
The only hope is that because PiS and PO have enough votes in Parliament to pass constitutional changes and override presidential vetoes they will be forced to deal.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Corporate taxes

I'm generally opposed to corporate income taxes. There are other ways for corporations to pay their way but the cost in any case is passed onto consumers and is a great incentive for corporations to move to friendlier markets.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find this short paragraph in this article from Canada's National Post:
Importantly, Canada's marginal effective tax rate (METR) was well above burgeoning economic engines like India at 24.3%, Poland at 20.2% and Ireland, which has slashed its rate to 13.7% and seen economic growth explode.
Now I understand why Polish stock markets are at their highest levels ever:
The Warsaw Stock Exchange surged forward yet again on Monday. The WIG-20 index closed up 2.19% at 2,507.41 points, only slightly below its historic high of 2,510 points.

The broad market WIG index was up 1.98% to 33,916.85 points on strong turnover of PLN 1.365 bln.

"Strong turnover shows that the inflow of foreign investors continues," Beskidzki Dom Maklerski analyst Maciej Bobrowski told PAP.

The analyst pointed out that telco TPSA and PKN Orlen fuel were enjoying trade volumes higher than seen during the Friday session and that banks enjoy increased trade.

There are some concerns that there may be some irrational exuberance involved:
"These growths seem a little bit mad to me," BZ WBK analyst Tomasz Lesniewski told PAP. "They are far away from the fundamentals now."

The analyst added that it's difficult to say when the rally, driven by foreign capital, will stop. Investors should watch the market closely for any indicators of sentiment reversal, he warned.
But who can blame people who are very optimistic about their future. Especially on the eve of what will be, if the polls are correct, a very good election for Polish economy.


A few words on a few elections

After elections in Britain, US, Australia and Japan I thought that the anti-war and anti-American movements couldn't score any great political victories. Unfortunately, anti-Americanism is still strong enough in Germany to throw its recent parliamentary elections in chaos. The irony of those elections is that Germany has no troops in Iraq.

Poland, on the other hand, has had a major military presence in Iraq from the very beginning of the war. The anti-war movement in Poland is very strong. Many Poles want the Polish troops to leave Iraq now if not sooner. But Poles don't seem as anti-American as Germans are. They are also slowly coming to their senses and realizing that socialism is indeed a close cousin of communism and it doesn't work much better. There are also more young people on the voting rolls since communism collapsed 16 years ago. The young people in Poland are fervent supporters of free- market ideas and are much more entrepreneurial than their parents.

So, although not greatly surprised, I'm very relieved when I look at the most recent polls that suggest that the center-right coalition could for the first time since 1989 seize the power and do so by big margins.

What's also encouraging is that my father's party, with which I can only agree on some socially conservative policies, but whose anti-war stance (rooted in anti-Semitism perhaps) and anti-capitalism are simply wrong and short-sighted, is not garnering a lot of support and in fact is losing it.

In this post I may have expressed some hopes for my father's party and I'd still prefer for it to do better than the populist-leftist Samoobrona or the currently ruling SLD. But I think the if the two current leaders can create big enough a coalition with LPR they should do so.

Poland is scheduled for general elections on September 25. The presidential election will take place in October. Let's hope the polls are correct and Poland doesn't buck the positive trend like Germany just did.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Labor Day weekend trip post in progress...

We went to Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area and visited La Grande, Union, and Cove. It was a blast and I will try and post some details later. For now, I've only managed to empty my camera...















October 2004   November 2004   December 2004   January 2005   February 2005   March 2005   April 2005   May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   May 2006   June 2006   July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   July 2007   August 2007   September 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   March 2008   April 2008   May 2008   June 2008   July 2008   August 2008   September 2008   October 2008   November 2008   December 2008   January 2009   February 2009   March 2009   April 2009   May 2009   June 2009   July 2009   August 2009   September 2009   October 2009   November 2009   December 2009   January 2010   February 2010   March 2010   April 2010   May 2010   June 2010   July 2010   August 2010   September 2010   October 2010   November 2010   December 2010   January 2011   February 2011   March 2011   April 2011   May 2011   June 2011   July 2011   August 2011   September 2011   October 2011   December 2011   January 2012   February 2012   March 2012   April 2012   May 2012   June 2012   August 2012   September 2012   October 2012   November 2012   January 2013   February 2013   March 2013   May 2013   July 2013   September 2013   October 2013   November 2013   December 2013   January 2014   March 2014   April 2014   May 2014   June 2014   July 2014   August 2014   September 2014   October 2014   November 2014   December 2014   May 2015   September 2015   November 2015   December 2015   March 2016  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?